Rival Staffs (Part 2 of 7): Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Mood music - Come Sail Away by Styx.

Now, onto part 2 of my quest to defeat dinosaurs, save the princess, and provide the Pinstripe Alley community with knowledge about the pitching staffs of the most formidable competition.  Today's challenge: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The first thing that I've noticed about the Angels staff, is that they've been remarkably healthy so far this season (especially in comparison to the walking wounded Red Sox).  The 5 Angels in the starting rotation currently (Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana, Scott Kazmir, Joe Saunders, and Joel Pineiro) have made 66 out of the 67 starts for the Angels so far this year, with only one spot start going to Matt Palmer while Scott Kazmir was dealing with his latest arm boo boo.

Another overall comment: The Angels bullpen isn't very good.  As a unit, the bullpen has an ERA of 4.96, an FIP of 4.40, and a BB/9 rate of 5.66.  To put that in perspective, AJ Burnett, in all of his glorious wildness, has a career BB/9 of 3.75.  And the anchor of the pen, Brian Fuentes, is sporting a 4.86 ERA, and already has 3 blown saves.  So in all of the analysis from here on out, realize that the starters have been somewhat hampered by a struggling bullpen.

I'm going to look at the five starters individually after the jump, starting with Surfer Boy (I actually don't have anything against Weaver, I just think it's funny that he used to look like Bronson Arroyo).

Jered Weaver is an ace.  I will repeat myself.  Jered Weaver is an ace.  Allow me to present his 2010 statistics side by side with Jon Lester's.

Weaver: 14 starts, 87.2 IP (6.26 IP/Start), 3.29 ERA, 3.19 FIP, 9.86 K/9, 2.36 BB/9, 2.3 WAR
Lester: 13 starts, 85 IP (6.54 IP/Start), 3.18 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 9.42 K/9, 3.81 BB/9, 2.4 WAR

I hate to give credence to the "woe is me, East Coast Bias!" whining of a certain unnamed fellow, but Jered Weaver is the best pitcher in baseball that gets totally ignored.

Ervin Santana is very talented, but has yet to really put everything together in any consistent type of way.  Santana has one of the nastiest sliders in the game, and has relied on it at a career high rate (38.2% of his pitches) and is 6.3 runs above average with it so far this year.  Santana has the ability to be dominant at times and his 3.52 ERA is evidence of that (but 4.29 FIP smells like regression), and has also posted a very solid 6.69 IP/Start, showing that even when he doesn't have his sharpest stuff, he has been giving length (Santana has at least finished the 6th in 11 out of his 13 starts).

Joel Pineiro misses the magical wizardry that is Dave Duncan.  Or maybe he misses pitching in the NL Central.  Either way, Joel Pineiro 2010 < Joel Pineiro 2009 by a pretty considerable margin.  Pineiro is an extreme control pitcher and an extreme sinkerballer, and his walk rate is up, and his ground ball rate is down, which tells me he's not getting his bread and butter sinker on the mark as well as he'd like.  On the plus side, though, his numbers do show that some positive regression is likely, and if the Angels are going to make a run in the West, they're going to need this guy to start throwing the bowling balls he was throwing last season in St. Louis.

Joe Saunders is sort of doing what Joe Saunders does.  ERA in the high 4s (4.70), lots of fly balls, not a lot of strikeout, and a pretty good innings eater (6.02 IP/Start). Saunders is a pretty prototypical back of the rotation type starter.  He tends to keep the team in the game, is good for the occasional gem or stinker, but really isn't going to blow anybody away.  All I got.  Sorry, Joe.

Scott Kazmir (Insert Steve Phillips related humor) has really failed to reach the lofty ceilings that were projected when he was a young gun in the Mets (Phillips'd!) and Rays organization.  Kazmir's well spotted 94 MPH fastball has turned into a erratic 90 MPH fastball, and his sharp swing-and-miss slider has turned into a flat cement mixer, as shown by his career low K/9 (6.21), high BB/9 (4.59), and pretty poor 5.27 ERA and 5.15 FIP.  While he has always played on rivals of the Yankees, it has been disappointing to see the way this highly touted kid has somewhat fallen apart.

Thoughts on the Angels rotation?  And any Sabathia > Weaver type talk will still elicit the delete hammer.

Previous: Boston Red Sox. Next: Minnesota Twins

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